Document Detail

Darwin's legacy and the study of primate visual communication.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  14766618     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
After Charles Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872, we had to wait 60 years before the theme of animal expressions was picked up by another astute observer. In 1935, Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts published a detailed comparison of the expressive behavior of a juvenile chimpanzee and of her own child. After Kohts, we had to wait until the 1960s for modern ethological analyses of primate facial and gestural communication. Again, the focus was on the chimpanzee, but ethograms on other primates appeared as well. Our understanding of the range of expressions in other primates is at present far more advanced than that in Darwin's time. A strong social component has been added: instead of focusing on the expressions per se, they are now often classified according to the social situations in which they typically occur. Initially, quantitative analyses were sequential (i.e., concerned with temporal associations between behavior patterns), and they avoided the language of emotions. I will discuss some of this early work, including my own on the communicative repertoire of the bonobo, a close relative of the chimpanzee (and ourselves). I will provide concrete examples to make the point that there is a much richer matrix of contexts possible than the common behavioral categories of aggression, sex, fear, play, and so on. Primate signaling is a form of negotiation, and previous classifications have ignored the specifics of what animals try to achieve with their exchanges. There is also increasing evidence for signal conventionalization in primates, especially the apes, in both captivity and the field. This process results in group-specific or "cultural" communication patterns.
Frans B M de Waal
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences     Volume:  1000     ISSN:  0077-8923     ISO Abbreviation:  Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci.     Publication Date:  2003 Dec 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2004-02-09     Completed Date:  2004-03-26     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7506858     Medline TA:  Ann N Y Acad Sci     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  7-31     Citation Subset:  IM    
Yerkes Primate Center, and Psychology Department, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Aggression / psychology
Facial Expression*
Nonverbal Communication*
Primates / physiology*
Visual Perception*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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